Wothlondia Rising by Gary Vanucci is a collection of six short stories set in the fantasy world of Wothlondia; between ogres, Faceless Knights, zombie hordes and demon containing amulets, there is plenty of adventure for each of the characters. The short stories are all prequel events to the next full novel Covenant of the Faceless Knights.
I was very excited to meet Gary Vanucci at GenCon this year and he was kind enough to provide me copies of his Beginnings Books, of which Wothlondia Rising is the first. While there were a few things that bothered me while I was reading Wothlondia Rising, I did genuinely enjoy the characters that we are introduced to in this anthology of short stories and am quite excited to see what happens in the full length novel, Covenant of the Faceless Knights!
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Title: Wothlondia Rising (Beginnings #1)
Author: Gary Vanucci
Pages: 3700 Kindle locations
Genre-ish: DnD-style high Fantasy
Rating: ★★★★☆- great characters, needs some editting
Setting: Wothlondia is a world that you could easily encounter in a table-top roleplaying game such as Dungeons and Dragons. There are elves, half-elves, ogres, half-ogres, humans, dragons, griffins, giant eagles, walking dead, etc. Magic and steel are both good ways for adventurers to defend themselves with plenty of potion brewing and praying to various gods thrown in for good measure.
Premise: Each of the short stories stands on its own and each is about one main character and a defining event(s) that happened to them. These range from a horde of zombies invading to someone being injured at a wedding to an amulet being stolen.
- I really liked all of the characters that we encountered and their stories make me excited to see how they all come together in the full length novels.
- While there are a lot of books set in these high fantasy worlds, I felt that Wothlondia Rising had some originality and expansion of typical ideas to keep it feeling fresh.
- Yey for kick-butt female barbarians that don’t let their father keep them from kicking zombie butt!!
- I really like the whole idea of a short story anthology to explain various stories that made characters who they are. It adds a nice depth.
- A few days after finishing this anthology, the characters that were introduced keep springing to my mind and making me smile. Wothlondia Rising evidently succeeded in having some really likable characters :).
- As with many indie books, Wothlondia Rising definitely would have shown brighter with another round of editing. Many sentences had redundant or awkward phrasing in addition to the typical (but a bit too frequent) grammatical typos.
- Slightly along those lines as well, the main plot arches of several of the short stories was not traditional at all and so was rather jarring to realize, “wait, that’s the end, but there was no resolution!!” Especially in short stories I feel that at least most of the traditional plot arc needs to be respected so that the reader has some grounding.
- There was a fairly frequent use of exclamation points in the narrator’s text, which just struck me as odd. Now I’m definitely a fan of exclamation points (see above), but it takes away from the narrator’s voice if they are used too frequently. You shouldn’t use exclamation points to make the reader understand something is exciting, you should use your text.
- Similarly when it came to the narrator’s voice, there was a bit too much info-dumping for the sake of the reader’s understanding, to the point that I felt like the narrator was explaining parenthetically to me because the narrator didn’t think I’d get what was going on otherwise. It’s important to trust your readers to pick up on things without as much hand-holding; it keeps them on their toes ;-).
While there were some really great characters and ideas in Wothlondia Rising, it just didn’t perform as well as it could have. I say it over and over, but it’s really important to get some good editing even for indie books, since otherwise those great ideas will get muddled. If you are a reader who doesn’t mind this frequent problem with indie books, and perhaps does some table-top gaming, then you should definitely pick up Wothlondia Rising. If, on the other hand, those types of mistakes would bother you greatly, perhaps just wait for another book by Vanucci to come out, since I’ve definitely found those things to improve in later books. Also I love table-top roleplaying. :D